For Hate-Mail 'Hoax,' Case Professor to Serve Six Months

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In May, we brought you the story of Ramani Pilla, the Case Western statistics professor who struggled to advance in her department and was eventually caught sending hate mail ... to herself. Last winter, she told investigators that her colleagues were sending her threatening letters in retaliation for a discrimination complaint she had filed. She later admitted sending the letters herself, and pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. In court documents, her lawyer argued that Pilla was “struggling with serious mental health issues” when she reported the hate mail, and was even involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric ward. Morris Goldman, a colleague of Pilla’s and a psychiatry professor at the University of Chicago, even suggested that Pilla’s crime may have been prompted by the medication she was taking at the time. But prosecutors weren’t ready to let her off that easy. They argued the letters were a calculated hoax, the professor’s way of responding to what she felt was unfair treatment by the university. Earlier this month, U. S. District Judge David Dowd sentenced her to six months in prison, and ordered her to repay $66,000 to cover the cost of investigating her claims. She’s set to begin serving time in January. -- Lisa Rab
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